WIU research pennycress planted

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 5:45 PM CST
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MACOMB (WGEM) - As much of the regional vegetation browns and dies off before the impending winter, there are some new sprouts of green on research plots in Macomb.

Western Illinois University’s research pennycress was planted last month and is just now beginning to show signs of growth.

The field contains 435 different species of wild pennycress in an effort to find the perfect cover crop.

“All of the wild populations of pennycress that we’ve collected throughout the world, we’re growing them all in one location. This gives us an opportunity to look for traits that we haven’t seen before. So this may be a different plant height, plant shape or maybe seed size,” said Dr. Win Phippen, a professor of plant breeding and genetics at WIU.

He said another key measure will be the exact date when the different species begin to flower.

“We’re planting it after corn, and we want to harvest it before producers start thinking about planting their next crop for the summer season. And so the sooner we can get the pennycress out of the field, the quicker they can start those plots. So early flowering time is always a critical one that we’re looking for,” said Phippen.

He said the plants will go dormant in December and should be ready to harvest by the April-May timeframe.

There will be a pennycress field day in mid-May to discuss the research progress.

The university received multiple grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER) project to fund the pennycress growth.

Dr. Phippen said the overall end goal is to create a cover crop that results in payments for farmers while also benefiting the environment.

You can find out more about the project by visiting iprefercap.org or pennycressresilience.org.


WIU celebrates crop research on third pennycress field day (wgem.com)

WIU project studying impact of new cover crop (wgem.com)

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